U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nicaragua
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nicaragua, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8a351.html [accessed 21 September 2014]|
Nicaragua (Tier 2)
Nicaragua is a source country for women and children trafficked internally and across borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Exploitation of minors in prostitution is believed to be the most prevalent form of internal trafficking. Nicaraguan victims were detected by law enforcement in neighboring countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, with Guatemala remaining the primary foreign destination for young women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation. Recent reports suggest that young men from border areas in southern Nicaragua are also trafficked to Costa Rica for the purpose of labor exploitation. The government acknowledges that trafficking and child sex tourism are significant problems.
The Government of Nicaragua does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Senior officials have expressed support for anti-trafficking efforts, and law enforcement officials stepped up efforts to prosecute traffickers and work with foreign governments and NGOs to assist victims. Despite modest progress, efforts to pursue enforcement actions against traffickers remain weak. The government should increase investigations, improve victim services, and work with the National Assembly to pass reforms that bring the penal code up to international anti-trafficking standards.
The Government of Nicaragua's progress in bringing traffickers to justice was uneven over the last year. Two investigations led to prosecutions; four of the five suspects prosecuted in one case were convicted and received four- to eight-year prison terms. In the second case, the defendants were acquitted, but the verdict was thrown out due to jury irregularities. An attempted retrial could not proceed, however, because the defendants had been released and remained at large. The government initiated at least seven investigations and closed down some businesses where minors were sexually exploited, but many victims were unwilling to assist in investigations or prosecutions. Border officials received training to identify trafficking situations. Widespread corruption in the court system and lack of witness protection may deter victims from seeking justice. Labor trafficking is not criminalized and laws against commercial sexual exploitation of minors do not protect all adolescents under 18 years of age. No government officials were linked to trafficking in the reporting period.
The government's protection efforts improved during the reporting period but remained inadequate. The Ministry of the Family opened a new shelter for minor victims of abuse and commercial sexual exploitation and activated a national hotline for abuse and commercial sexual exploitation victims of all ages. Twenty-four police sub-stations throughout the country assisted female victims of violent crime, including trafficking, but in general, government agencies lacked resources and relied on NGOs to shelter and assist victims. The government negotiated an agreement with a regional NGO for the NGO to assist Nicaraguan victims in neighboring countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs instructed missions to be proactive in assisting Nicaraguan trafficking victims, and embassies helped repatriate at least 21 victims from El Salvador and Guatemala during the reporting period.
The government made good faith efforts to raise public awareness during the reporting period. Government agencies such as the Women's Division of the National Police and the Ministries of Government and Education worked with students, teachers, the press, and the tourism industry to reach a wider audience about potential victimization by traffickers and sex tourists.